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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hospice Cultural Diversity: Share What Your Hospice Organization Is Doing


It is no secret that hospice services are underutilized nationally among people of color. While several barriers to utilization have been studied, solutions always include the necessity of more outreach to racial-ethnic groups by hospice organizations.

Promoting cultural diversity requires sincere commitment to hire more people of color at all staff levels, more input from people of color on what their needs really are, and more hospice recruitment in their communities at churches, schools, recreation centers, events, etc., along with media, particularly in their languages. Hospice workers must take proactive outreach roles in presenting the benefits hospice provides, while making recipients of their services feel welcomed and respected.

These are examples of what two hospice organizations are doing:

Julie Cranz
Hospice Volunteer Coordinator
Hospice of Western Kentucky
Owensboro, KY

Our hospice started an ACCESS committee in order to identify, educate, and serve populations that we do not currently serve. We have contacted the local NAACP president, who has forwarded information about us to all minority churches in our city. We will be making a presentation at an NAACP meeting and offering free health screenings at local minority churches. We also changed the photos on our brochures to ensure that a diverse population is represented.

Monica Escalante
VP of Volunteers, Community Education and Outreach
Montgomery Hospice
Rockville, MD

We have done quite a bit regarding cultural diversity. We have prioritized the work within the agency. MH has diverse staff, and our senior management is also very diverse (ethnically and also in terms of professional backgrounds and experience). Developing cultural competency is an important part of staff orientation, and we also have engaged our experienced staff in an annual discussion about culturally competent care. Finally, we have language interpretation services provided over the phone and available 24/7.

For outreach, we have done the following:

The Spanish Outreach
We offered bereavement groups, translated many flyers, and have a Spanish information page on our website (with several articles): http://www.montgomeryhospice.org/patients/indexSPANISH.php
We also participate in the Latino Health initiative and many festivals they organize.

The Asian Outreach
We participate in health fairs for all minority groups. Last year, we connected with a series on “Working with Asian Populations at End of Life” organized by a truly influential grass roots association.

African American Outreach
A bereavement counselor attends the Black Ministers conference on a monthly basis and our Manager of Outreach has a MH booth at every African American event in the county.

We are in constant communication and provide helpful information to the faith community (we have a huge email list), and through them, we reach another diverse segment of the population.

All our communications, flyers, and other tools are tested for cultural competency; we do that using our own diverse staff, who happen to love providing this kind of feedback.

Surely, more hospice organizations have cultural diversity best practices to share that others can explore. Quality end-of-life care is an entitlement for everyone. That is the hospice philosophy. What is your hospice organization doing to promote cultural diversity? Please comment below.


Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.